Dear Reader: They say that a picture is worth a thousand words; and we are, sadly, aware that there are those among our friends who would gladly exchange many of our words for a simple, pictorial guide to those events chronicled in actually fairly sparse detail below, given how much we did. We are giving you folks a quick way out.
Attend, please, to the Chapter Summaries provided for your benefit, along with the bright and simple illustrations. We hope you find comfort in scrolling from photo to photo without the corresponding need to tax your attention for longer than the average television commercial. Or, you may simply accept our wishes for A Felicitous 2016 and read no further than this paragraph. (The rumors that we have installed an eye motion tracking application on this site that will reveal how much attention is paid to the individual characters on the screen have no basis in fact. As far as you know.)
Part the First 2014: – in which our hero returns home from a 2 year exile in the Man Cave; the Last Child leaves home; our heroine explores points East; the Happy Couple discovers the joys of Southwestern Oregon, and Portland, and follow in the footsteps of D’Artagnon and Santiago; the Philly Fillies get legal and come to visit; the Columbus Zoo competes with a wedding; Flash Fiction sparks conversation; and Grampa gets a leg up.
In early 2104, John’s employer in Beaverton announced a layoff so massive that it made headlines in the biggest newspaper in the state and triggered an investigation into whether the company had abused tax breaks it had received for establishing a facility there. He hung on until the end of February, but in March moved back home to Eugene. The move was made easier by the fact that Susan the Wonder Adult (she IS over 30, so Wonder CHILD no more – and Wonder WOMAN brings something entirely different to mind) had moved into her own digs at the first of the year. She took a one bedroom apartment a view of too many U of O parties and car prowlers, but see Part the Second – things improved.
Anyway, back to John – even before he completely transitioned back to the lower Willamette valley, he landed a long term gig with an accounting software company and missed lees than a month of work in the transition. While in Portland, John had adopted an abandoned cat, an approximately 9 year old neutered Tom that he named Sanchez, after a favorite John Scalzi story.
Sanchez quickly got accustomed to the new environment, but had (and still has) an intermittently rocky relationship with Yin and Yang, Marilyn’s 15 year old Siamese/domestic short hair mix cats.
While John and Sanchez were settling in. Marilyn embarked on her first visit to New Orleans. The occasion was a professional conference, where she met up with some old friends and new peers. There was a dinner cruise on a steam wheel river boat
Left: Rolling on the river with Yvonne Stam.
We went on a night time ghost tour of the French Quarter, where Marilyn felt a strong sense of déjà vu from reading so many Barbara Hambly novels. On the last day there was a bus tour to the 9th Ward, where the aftermath of Hurricane Katrina is still evident.
Instead of returning home immediately, Marilyn went on to meet Sarah, Narda and Nika at Narda’s mother home in Maryland.
New clothes are a Norooz tradition and Nika made quite a fashion statement.
Nika had more to celebrate in May when Pennsylvania recognized marriage quality and her moms got to tie the knot legally. We already knew they were a family, but it is so wonderful that they are legally acknowledged!
John made his annual pilgrimage to the Society for Technical Communication Convention, which was in Phoenix in 2014. He enjoyed seeing his many friends and peers in the technical communication world. He also provided valuable assistance to the organizers of another annual technology convention, Lavacon – conveniently located in Portland this time around.
June took us to Columbus to visit an assembly of captive primates behaving in interesting and sometimes confusing ways – a family wedding. But first we went to the world famous zoo. It is an amazing place with a very sophisticated transportation system and better than average habitats for the animals. Also very big snow cones.
A couple of weeks later we all gathered in Tacoma for July 4th . My dad was having some health issues and we joined him for a hot dog feast at the University Place Care Center. I don’t think they were expecting 20 people when they told him family was welcome!
It was also an opportunity for us to get a rare photo of the Wahlberg siblings together.
Sarah, Lars and Susan at Lake Wapato Park.
Nika got to meet her Kim cousins – Raegan and Paige and they became fast friends.
In 2014, we intentionally made an effort to explore Oregon experiences that we had not taken advantage of in the previous decade. In June we visited the Sylvia Beach Hotel in Newport Oregon along with Marilyn’s brother Steve and his wife Andrea. The hotel rooms are named after authors and decorated according to the genre in which the author wrote. We stayed in the Shakespeare room – decorated with the throne from Macbeth, dioramas of Hamlet and Romeo and Juliet and photos of Laurence Olivier. Steve and Andy were in the Amy Tan room with a cool, modern Chinese vibe. We caught glimpses of the Dr. Seuss room and the Jules Verne room – decked out like a cabin in the Nautilus, complete with a giant squid tentacle coming through the porthole! http://www.sylviabeachhotel.com/
It turned out that was the weekend of the Newport Highland Games and we had great fun watching the caber toss, rock throw and frying pan toss.
We went to Ashland together for the first time. We stayed at the Lithia Springs Resort and saw a musical production of a Marx Brother’s movie called Cocoanuts! We also visited John’s old friend Richard Rogers on a historic farm where he is the caretaker and he introduced us to the little town of Jacksonville.
Jacksonville is the home of the Britt Music Festival every summer. It turned out that banjo maestro Bela Fleck was appearing later in the summer with his Imposter Concerto for Banjo and orchestra. We immediately made arrangement to return for that performance and to see a production of Into the Woods with most of the same cast from Cocoanuts. On our return visit we stayed at the Magnolia Inn in Jacksonville. We also had a lovely brunch with Marilyn’s WHS classmate Denise Alder Walker.
Other 2014 Oregon based entertainment included seeing Bob Newhart at Seven Feathers Casino. Loved Newhart – hated the venue. We saw Carol Burnet at the Hult Center in Eugene and loved both the star and the venue. We visited Zoo Lights at the Portland Zoo and had our first say at a Kimpton Hotel – the Hotel Monaco. We have become diehard fans of this funky boutique hotel chain. We have stayed at all three in Portland and one in Seattle.
As is our habit, we attended a handful of science fiction and writing conventions in 2014, notably Westercon in Sacramento, which celebrated all things Star Trek because the Master of Ceremonies was David Gerrold, who wrote the Trouble with Tribbles episode of the original series. As usual we picked up lots of hard science information, including that there are smart phone apps for EKGS and ultrasounds. At Orycon, we took a flash fiction class and have since been hitting each other up randomly with demands to spend 5 minutes writing on quirky topics to see what we come up with. Someday you may see one of our names in Daily Science Fiction online! We opted not to attend LonCon, the 214 World Science Fiction Convention because we took a very different and more important trip.
The major event of 2014 was our trip to Europe with longtime friends Patti and Ken Latsch and their friend Steve Cotton. We met up with them in London and travelled to Harwich to embark on a Celebrity Cruise to LeHarve and LaRochelle France and to Bilbao and Viga Spain. We experienced Monet’s gardens, the cliffs at Étretat , the country side that was the setting for Dumas’ Three Musketeers, the Guggenheim Museum and the church in Santiago de Compostela that serves as the end of the Camino de Santiago pilgrimage route. All this – and the Spanish ham – was amazing, But the best experience was the time spent with Ken and Patti. Patti was in a brief remission from the cancer that stole her life in November 2015 and this was our last opportunity to reaffirm a friendship that spanned more than a quarter of a century. We are so grateful for the time spent together.
The Fall of 2014 was marked by health concerns for Marilyn’s dad, who faced the difficult decision to say good bye to his right leg below the knee. The operation was very successful and his health improved immediately. It took some time to get him back to independent living, but that’s a story for 2015.
Still reading? You must really like us!
Part the Second: 2015 – in which The Family expands; the Happy Couple volunteers in a State of Emergency at Sasquan 2015, cruises the Southwest Passage and visits Another Zoo ; our heroine frees herself from the Blackberry of Management; and we bid Farewell to Eugene and move into a bit of History on the shores of Puget Sound.
2015 started off quietly. John successfully auditioned for the Eugene Concert Choir.
Sooz, the Wonder Adult, having tired of the noise, vandalism and unpredictable midnight fumbling at her locked door in the University District, gave up her apartment in favor of shared space with her main squeeze, Sigh. They have multiple roommates, most of whom share their interests in fusion blues dance and triathalons. They are, to say the least, a colorful couple.
Sooz began training for her first triathlon and successful;;y completed a charity event in Sun River Oregon on one of the hottest days of the summer. She was the last person over the finish lines under her own power, but she completed it. The training continues. She enjoys her human resource job at Pentagon Federal Credit Union and is a devoted mother to cats Sebastian and Bo.
February took us to the 2015 Potlatch writer’s conference in Seattle – the topic was proactive, “Women Destroy Science Fiction – but the trip was yet another reminder of how much we missed Washington. At some point Marilyn asked the timeless question, “If a cow fell on me, would you stay in Eugene?” ( Falling cow. It’s a thing. Really. Check it out. http://crisisforums.org/discussion/1320/brazilian-man-killed-in-his-bed-by-falling-cow)
When John answered “NO!” without any hesitation at all, we began tallying up pros and cons of being in Eugene. Wonderful natural setting, charming community, our beautiful home,, Eugene Concert Choir, Sooz Ann – versus a very limited social life due to Marilyn’s work hours and management responsibilities and John working online and seldom leaving the house during daylight hours, geographic distance from most of our established relationships, difficulty helping out with Marilyn’s dad, the increasing discomfort we both feel with long drives up I-5 with aging backs and failing eyesight. We gave ourselves some time to think it over and moved on to other things for the moment, but that falling cow was never far from our thoughts.
In March, John joined Marilyn for his first – and as it turned out, last – Eugene Concert Choir performance. The direction was amazing – Diane Retallack is a gifted conductor – and the music challenging and satisfying to sing. John also started working with technical content and marketing design professional Anna Parker to form a new venture called Double Tall Consulting. http://www.hedtke.com/doubletallconsulting/consulting/
On most days, though, John lends (ok, sells) his talents to Adaptive Insights, the firm that lassoed him when he was cut loose from his gig in Beaverton last year. His job satisfaction has waxed and waxed with personnel changes and the sometimes baffling logic of management directives, so he is ever on the alert for new challenges.
Spring brought a bit more activity with the April arrival of our fourth granddaughter, Quinn Elizabeth Hae Sue Kim.
Marilyn’s sisters, Nancy Mauer Laurendeau and Barbara Miller came to Eugene to join us for the Eugene premier of a ballet performed to the music of the rock opera Tommy.
At the end of April, Marilyn flew to Chicago to attend a meeting of the Association of Hearing Office Chief Judges. She again enjoyed the company of Yvonne Stam, who whisked her off to see a taping of the NPR show “Wait, Wait, Don’t Tell Me.” The evening’s panelists were P.J. O’Rourke, Roxanne Roberts, and Alonzo Boden.
The event hotel was crowded with very large, very healthy looking young men because there was this little football event going on – oh yeah– the DRAFT. Marilyn found this little reminder of home.
Marilyn did a little shopping on the Miracle Mile when she learned that a certain grandchild wanted to dress up like a certain cryogenically gifted princess. The Disney Store offered a variety of fairly pricy ways to grant that wish and we think the one she chose was well suited to the situation. Nika declared the dress,” Beee-ooo-tiful,” and the house echoed with cries of, “Run away or I will FWEEEZE you!”
On Marilyn’s return to Track Town USA, the falling cow discussion was revived and we decided to take the first step towards moving back the Seattle metro area. Marilyn put in a transfer request to a non-management Administrative Law Judge position in Tacoma, fully expecting to spend six months to a year on the waiting list. Less than 45 days Later the word came down that a transfer was possible by the first of August! After consulting calendars and negotiating dates Marilyn’s last day as Chief Judge in the Eugene Hearing Office was established as September 5, 2015.
There followed a flurry of minor household repairs and attendant vendor miscues (we did NOT order PINK carpet for the upstairs hallway!). We put the house on the market at the end of July. Out realtor told us to expect it to take 6 months to sell the house, so we figured Marilyn would move up to Tacoma and find a short term rental while we took our time looking for a place.
Fourth of July weekend took us to Westercon in San Diego. On arriving at the event hotel, rooms were not ready and check in was crowded. We asked a passing guest where we might find coffee and she turned out to be one of our favorite authors, podcasters and performers, Seanan McGuire. Seanan has been nominated for multiple Hugo awards in multiple categories and has won multiple times for the Squeecast Podcast. She won the John Campbell New Writer Award a few years ago. She is very quick and funny and completely capable of plotting world annihilation through viral plague or parasitology for a cost of less than $2000.00 We know this because she plausibly explained it to us over breakfast. And now she knows where we live. Good times. http://www.seananmcguire.com/
At this con we learned about brain hacks to stimulate mood changes. We saw a neurobiologist act out the impact of laser light stimulation on the amygdala of rats. We learned why serious engineers and biologists think Mars One is bogus. We also got to sing with Seanan in a Filk circle and she seemed disappointed when we left. (For the benefit of Marilyn’s friends: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Filk_music) We had dinner with John’s dear friend Bonnie Graham and her husband Brian Gonzalez. And we visited the world famous San Diego Zoo. Columbus in 2014, San Diego in 225, we are going to have to find another World Famous Zoo in 2016. This zoo had the virtue of being much cooler (temperature –wise) than the one in Columbus but it lacked the colorful, lifelike photos of Jack Hanna at every intersection..
Later in July, we headed up to Tacoma for a Mauer Family Reunion at Joint Base Lewis McChord. We were missing a couple of sisters due to surgery and an east coast workload, and a couple of cousins (Narda was VERY pregnant so Sarah and Nika stayed with her in Swarthmore). But the turnout was pretty impressive.
On the evening of Friday, August 8th – yes, we know the date – Marilyn logged on to a real estate website and saw it. The Perfect House. It is in Fircrest, Washington, four blocks equidistant from her brother Steve and her sister Karen and a mile and half from her dad’s condo. It was built in 1906 and has been extensively remodled. It has the space John wanted (2600 sq feet, five bedrooms) the yard he wanted (1/4 acre with mature fruit trees) and the commute Marilyn wanted (less than 5 miles from the Tacoma ODAR office). The next morning, Marilyn hopped in the car at 6 AM and, with sister-in-law Andy along for the ride, met with our Tacoma realtor, and toured the house. By 7 PM an offer was writen up and on the way to the sellers. The house was ours by 4 PM on Monday August 11.
This is a water color rendering of the house at 230 Summit Avneue. The front door is different now, but it is otherwise quite accurate.
To add to our happiness, son Lars, who reently comleted his Associate of Techincal Arts degrees, announced his engagement to Vy Nguyen and asked for assistance planning a wedding in October.
With the pressure on to move the house in Eugene, and plan a wedding, we , of course, took off on an extended vacation. First we headed to Spokane to attend Sasquan 2015 – the World Science Fiction Convention. Marilyn had wanted to expand her experience at cond beyond merely spectating so we volunteered to be staff, working on site slection for the 2017 convention, This involved taking people’s credit cards and ballots and being stuck at a table during all of the exciting presentations. We did NOT see the Vatican astronomer, the live presentatione from Kjell Lindgren on the International Space Station, any of authors we really wantd to see or much of Spokane. We did get free tee shirts for volunteering, And we had the adventure of being at the only WorldCon to officially be at the center of a declared state of emergency. Forest fires burning around Spokane produced smoke so dense that on one day we were told to NOT walk around outside and on a couple of days the sun was a big red ball in the sky and the moon was the color of blood. On the second day of the convention we got word that our fifth granddaugher – Daria Pearl Quigley had arrived.
John’s dad Chuck and his wife, Terri Ann, joined us for breakfast on our last day in Spokane. It is always nice to connect with them.
There was about a week between our return from Sasquan and our departure for a week long cruise to Alaska with Brain and Fong Chinn and their sons, Raymond and Daniel. The cruise, this time on Norwegian, was fun because of our companions, but we still prefer Royal Carribean. We visisted Juneau, Skgway, Glacier Bay and Ketchican. The Chinn’s did a lot of rock wall clmbing on the ship, but we got our exercise on shore, hiking to see glaciers , climbing hills, and geocaching on an island. We saw spouting whales, nesting bald eagles, frolicking sea otters and calving glaciers. It was pretty much eveyrthing you look for in the SW Passage.
We accepted an offer on our Euegne house in early September and John undertook to manage everything without the help of professional movers. He employed friends and acquaitances for packing and used UHaul Pods for storage and transport. Results were mixed – we still can’t find our flatware – and did not necessarily produce the anticipated cost savings, but he joined Marilyn in Tacoma in time to officiate over Lars and Vy’s wedding on the evening of October 23, 2015.
Vy’s mom came from Viet Nam for the ceremony and – in a real surpise move Sarah and Narda flew in with the kids for the weekend.
John got to play Grampa with Nika and Marilyn got to do tummy hugs with Daria.
After the wedding, Marilyn followed the girls back to Pennsylvania and spent nearly a month helping the new moms and getting to know Daria as well as learning more about Nika’s lively, creative spirit. She also got to spend a few days with sister Vineta Mauer Nicholson and husband Harry in Alexandria, Virginia. All of which was much more than John had dealing with delays in the house closing and getting painters and furniture delivery scheduled and rescheduled. After a bunch of frustrating delays – and a huge bill for boarding the cats at the vet – John got things under control enough so that Marilyn came home to a liveable environment.
Marilyn’s transition from managing judges to just being a judge has been pretty smooth. She works at home 10 days a month and every third month spends a week doing hearings back in Salem, Oregon, because of the high case load there. The only drawback to working at home is the ever present temptation to stop and do laundry or run the vacuum. John does not experience this phenomenon for some reason.
Our inaugural social event in the new house was a cookie decorating party for granddaughters Raegan, Paige and Quinn Kim in mid-December.
The girls had a great time and demanded an encore, so there was a flower cookie event in April as well. We also took on the annual Mauer Christmas breakfast and have had a few old friends over for dinner. Our only other big event so far was a gender reveal party for the baby that Lars and Vy are expecting in July – it’s a girl, giving us a perfect track record of 6 granddaughters!
Part the Third – 2016: in which the happy couple lays out their plans for adventures domestic and exotic and congratulates the Reader on having had the stamina to read this entire essay.
This years’ science fiction and writing events include a one day writing class in January , through Clarion West, Norwescon in March, Westercon in Portland over the 4th of July and MidAmeriCon – the 2016 World Science Fiction Convention in Kansas City, MO in August.
We have two big adventures for the spring and summer. On May 2 we embark on what is supposed to be a 4 week home remodeling project to tear down the dangerously deteriorated original chimney, replace the furnace and hot water heater, strip out the old knob and tube wiring and add air conditioning to most of the house. (The master bedroom id vented and plumbed separately for some reason and will have to wait its turn.) We will have holes in walls, floors and the roof all at the same time. We don’t’ know whether to be excited or terrified. The end result will not be visible if they do it well, but the house will be safer.
Then on July 10 we fly to Belfast to start a two week adventure on Ireland and Scotland with some of Marilyn’s extended family and friends who might as well be family. John is happy to return again to Ireland, which is his favorite place to visit. We will not be letting him kiss any stones that might increase his gift of gab.
The spring and summer will be busy and, no doubt, stressful. We look forward to every minute and to having more of our Puget Sound area friends over to help us break in the new house. The sooner we fill it with the voices and laughter of our friends and family, the sooner it will really be home.
Marilyn & John